The start of the weekend mail
Not sure if was the hour-long chat Friday or the various IGBT that became more discussions than game stuff but we’re quite light on the mail this week.
That’s not too bad because I’d like to coast at least a little bit; here’s some that we got, there are only three or four leftover now for the morning so if there’s something on your mind or you just want to say hello, you know the drill.
Q: Hello. For the Tall Foreheads, as for how the blog goes, I vote for a combination of all things sports, except no hockey. There is enough of that permeating the culture. I also vote for the lighter side with "our" favourite music, videos and Grace.
Today's question is: Does today remind you of the last day of public school? The promise of summer holidays,the anticipation for next fall? Who will be your classmates?
If you can find it, Gary U.S. Bonds, School Is Out! ( I can root for the Yankees from the bleachers, and don't have to worry bout teachers)
Bob E, Kanata
A: If there wasn’t the lottery and the draft and free agency and the summer league ahead, it sure would have had the feeling of last day of school. Let’s say it was more like the last day before March Break; we’ll get a bit of a respite but we’ll be back at it in not too long with all the familiar boys and girls.
Oh, and since you asked …
Q: Sorry if a repeated comment/question, but heard someone say the other day that "Canada is a hockey country". I was wondering if you could comment on that.
Personally, I don't understand the need to force the idea that being Canadian is playing hockey and that Canada needs to have an identity per se. Also, in considering economic concerns (hockey seems to me to be the most expensive sport to play), changing demographics, increased talent/opportunity in other sports, and safety issues, it seems outdated, misplaced, and an incredibly forced perception.
Jay F, Scarborough
A: I think it’s actually more people of a certain age and background and geographical location in our country that insist it’s a “hockey country.”
In my little neck of the multi-cultural demographic, there are more baskets than hockey nets, for instance. Long gone are the days when dads and sons would be sure to sit around on Saturday nights watching the pucks.
It’s changing, for sure; there is a more fractured fan base for all sports. The suggestion this is solely a “hockey country” is a trite cliché no longer true.
Q: Hey Doug: This question comes on the heels of your blog regarding Bryan's exit speech. I don't know if you realize it or not, but a number of your readers feel that they could do a MUCH better job as GM of the Raps than Bryan has. (Why all of the NBA teams have overlooked them is beyond me.)_I happen to believe that Bryan has done a good (not perfect) job. I'd like to cite three (and a half?) examples:
The hiring of Dwane. If memory serves, there were a number of other teams trying to find the 'right' coach. Bryan did. Obviously, due diligence was done.
Signing Andrea to an extension - an act that many of the would-be GMs denounced. However, based on Andrea's performance this season, it would appear that Bryan knew exactly what he was doing.
Maintaining financial flexibility for next season. Based on what you've said of Bryan, it must have nearly killed him this season to not make some sort of 'move.' But he stayed the course - for the most part. His deal for Barbosa (this is the half) actually improved the Raps position going forward.
Now for the question: Could you add a few more examples of the 'good' things that Bryan has done for the Raptors? Not for the 'doubters' - they apparently only hear their own voices - but for those of us who think Bryan is doing fine. I'd like to hear some of the other, 'oh, yeah' things that he's done.
Thanks for all of your hard work for the Irregulars!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Well, like all GMs in all sports, he has definitely had some misses that go along with his hits, that’s just the nature of the business.
I liked the James Johnson for a 29th draft pick deal, I liked the Jerryd Bayless pick up, I think he did a pretty good job getting Barbosa for, well, nothing, really. Garbo and Anthony Parker signings were great and got the team to the post-season twice and I don’t think people remember that buzz and excitement.
Sure, Turk didn’t work out but he fixed it; Jermaine O’Neal didn’t work out but he rented Shawn Marion for a while that allowed him to make another bold deal.
It’s been ups and downs – more downs lately but the ups were there – and they are positioned quite well to move forward because the deals he made, or didn’t make.
Q: If the Raptors are a 1,2,3 pick, it's not that hard to pick someone? Otherwise the Raptors are a 7,8,9,10,11 pick. Do they take a PG-type or a SF-type?
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: The most glaring need, in my opinion, is at small forward.
Q: During an in game blog after JJ didn't play for the second game you mentioned something about getting some info on the situation when you traveled to Thunder... did you ever find anything out about that situation??
Also, I'm wondering if you have any insight into what happened with Wilson Chandler... he was signed for a reasonable amount, and we got rid of Barbosa, which suggests we could have done so earlier.
Any insight if it was the money? Did he turn us down or did we turn him down?
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: Did find out about it and wrote about it in Thursday’s paper (it’s in here somewhere).
Chandler wanted a deal for longer than just the rest of this season at the end, couldn’t get it here because of convoluted cap restraints and did a multi-year deal to go back to Denver.
Q: Doug being in other NBA arenas (losing teams) how do you rate the Raptors attendance, fans basketball knowledge and fan support of the team?
Mike G, Kitchener
A: I’d say in the top half. Good-sized crowds for a so-so team, quite a rabid fan base that tends to get too grumpy too quickly some nights but, overall, certainly in the top half of the league.
Q: BC traded Barbosa in order to have the "potential" to add salary immediately at the season's end.
If they wanted to trade today, with a team whose season is over, can they?
If you had to guess... would you guess the chances are they do, in fact, make a trade sooner rather than later?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: Trades can be consummated now between any teams whose seasons are over; that’s non-playoff teams right now and the list grows as teams are eliminated.
But I don’t think anything of any substance happens before the May 30 lottery so we’ve got more than a month to sit around and wait.
Q: Doug, Calderon and Nash would be the smartest classical playmaking point guards duo of the NBA history.
They, with the new big kid coming from Lithuania playing the C, Andrea at the PF, Demar, a smart defending veteran with the ability to score from the arc at the SF role and the new rookie could be a big surprise next season.
The Raps have other good players (Amir, Ed, Aaron, JJ, Kleiza, Forbes) to fill an high level bench and a very, very impressive coaching staff who was able to build an efficient defensive system without having a preseason training.
Doug, in your heart do you feel that in the next 1-2-3 years we are going to see the best team of the Raptors history?
Paolo P, Roma
A: I don’t about the best team in history, I guess it has that potential but the early-2000s with Vince and Oak and AD and Alvin was pretty special. I will say they are positioned better today than they have been in half a decade and there is a justified sense of optimism and that something quite good is going to happen relatively quickly.
Q: Hi Doug. I just read that Bayless will be a 7 million and change cap hit until he signs somewhere... If his qualifying offer is only 4.3 million why is the Cap hit so high?
Also, did the raps, (or do they have to) make an offer for him in order retain his rights? If they are looking to make a big splash in F.A on day one, could they just decided not to offer a a qualifying offer.. and remove the "restricted" tag from JB's free agency???
Some insight would be much appreciated! Thanks!
Jeff M, Saint John
A: It’s just the way they’ve set up cap holds; depends on yeas of experience, salary, terms of expiring deal.
And they do have to make him a qualifying offer, which I expect they will.
But they absolutely could renounce him and have that money available. No decisions have been made.
Q: Hi Doug. I liked your Thursday bit on Steve Nash. Nash basically made the game fun and there seems to be too little of that at times. The only two players I can really compare him to are John Stockton (similar skill set but not as much fun) and Magic Johnson (totally different body with an even better passing touch and the embodiment of having fun out there). Anyone else you can add to the list?
Kevin M, Maple
A: I’m not really one for comparisons because they’re almost too subjective and each guy is unique. I would say that he’s far more Stockton than Magic but past that, can’t really come up with another guy.
Q: Do you see much of a change in DeMar's demeanor? He seems to be showing a lot more passion this year. Unfortunately, it's lead to a few more technicals. As he gains confidence, is he challenging the officials more than he has in the past? Is this more of his personality showing through or just a bi-product of him creating more contact in the lane?
Dwane's talked about this being a learning opportunity, but do you see this as a problem that is progressively getting worse? I don't think we want to see "World Peace" in Toronto.
Terry M, Antigonish
A: It’s not getting progressively worse. He’s simply learning what is, and isn’t, tolerated by officials, he’s seeing for the first time, really, what it’s like to attack the basket and get hit and I’m confident he’ll figure it out after pressing the issue and adapt just fine.